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day 1: tis the season for giving.

the fika girl is back… with an all new 40 days series! read on to find out…

as of today, it is exactly 40 days until the new year. that’s right, 40 days until we usher in 2014!

there was something inside me that made me feel like i should mark these days with something special, that i should be completely aware of these next 40 days and commit to something during this journey, as a way to transition from the old to the new. well, it was obvious, also when i realized that there are 40 days left, that i needed to do another 40 day adventure. i also realized that living life in 40 day increments is quite an amazing, transformative way to live – just look at my 40 days of fika. it has changed my life! after thinking about all of this, i decided that my long term goal, is to try to do different 40 days series throughout the year. but, 40 days of what? where do i begin?

i reached out to friends on Facebook to get some inspiration for the next 40 days, and after quite a few comments, i knew what i would do. so, it’s time to introduce you to the:

40 days of giving!!

here’s the challenge/adventure: for the next consecutive 40 days i am going to give. from serving a meal at a homeless shelter to giving a hug and everything in between, i am compiling my list of things to give. it’s kinda like combining thanks-giving and gift-giving, covering the 40 days of the holiday season, giving me a chance to experience the end of 2013 in a completely different way. i’m gonna include random acts of kindness, volunteerism, activism, food, art, beer, time, pretty much whatever. giving up, giving in, giving away… and I have to do this all literally 40 days in a row before 2014! so, what do y’all think?!

to be honest, i am a bit freaked out about it. inside, i wanted to mark these 40 days with a fairly internal thing, like 40 days of yoga or writing or something. but, this requires action, interaction, people. it is not at all an internal thing. it is very social and it feels quite demanding. i am sure i will “fail” and miss a day or two, but that’s all part of the journey. still, i am committing to give it my best, and committing to blogging about it as the days pass. hopefully, every day. i have to be done by december 31.

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my celebratory bellini… to kick off my 40 days of giving.

time to begin! here’s a little scoop on what i did today to ease into this 40 days of giving:

this evening, biltmore village, a cozy area of shops and restaurants in asheville, had their first annual tree lighting ceremony. my love and i arrived just before 6, finding people gathered to listen to a choir sing in front of the so-far unlit tree. whew. we hadn’t missed it. we parked the car and began making our way to the tree gathering, walking on the sidewalks, all lit up by luminaries. it looked quite cozy, even if the temperature was warm-ish. i was trying to get into the spirit, but i wasn’t quite feeling it. it was sweet and cute, but you could tell that this was a first annual event. we stood and listened to the high school group sing, and i was suddenly overcome with a craving for hot chocolate. you know, to make it an official, winter, holiday scene.

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lucky for me, they had a hot chocolate table where they were accepting donations, with all of the money going to toys for tots – an american charity that provides christmas gifts for kids that otherwise will not have any.

as i stood there, i thought back to a time when i was teaching (about 16 years ago) and had the sheer pleasure of delivering a toys for tots bag of gifts to one of my students, who lived in a run-down shack with his mother and his5 brothers & sisters. the mom did everything she could, but they had no heat, were always dirty, and often hungry. she had fallen on really tough times. but, she and all of there kids were just the sweetest, most polite kids ever. so kind and gentle. bot bitter or angry or mean. they had nothing, literally nothing, but shared their love and kindness.

anyway, their family had been adopted as recipients of christmas presents one year, and i drove them gifts out to them just before christmas. i bumped along a rocky, dirt road for miles and finally reached their tiny, wooden shack. i got out and started to climb the stairs, but one of the kids yelled from the door for me to stop. they didn’t want me to fall through the hole in the porch. they didn’t use their front door, but a window on the side of their house, to get in and out.

i walked over to the window and met them there, all of them hanging out, eyes bright with excitement. all giggles and smiles as i told them that this big bag of gifts was for them. it was an amazing moment for me. one that, clearly, i will never forget.

you know, they say that what you give comes back to you – the rule of karma. i am a firm believer of the golden rule, or karma, or whatever you want to call it. the energy, the vibes, whatever we put out into the world come back to us. and that’s true. but, i don’t think that’s a good (or the only) reason to give. i don’t give in order to receive – that’s missing the whole point. i give, i want to give, because we are all equals. there is not one of us that is not worthy of love and kindness and peace. so, during the next 40 days, i want to give that to the world – in many different ways. just because. not because i want to “do good” and get check marks so i can get to heaven, or feel good about myself, or feel my heart expand, or whatever. of course, my life will be changed and i will feel all warm and snuggly inside. but more that that, giving will be my outward, physical statement of my beliefs: that all are equal and worthy. that not one person, animal, or place on this earth is better than another. and that we are all connected. 40 days of giving will help me be a part of making that connection stronger.

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as i stood at the tree-lighting ceremony last night, i thought about that family, those kids from sixteen years ago. and i went over and bought myself a $10 cup of hot chocolate.

namaste.

About Liz McGuire

Liz is a blogger, writer, and amateur photographer in Asheville, NC. She is a returning expat, re-adjusting to American life after living in Sweden for the past three years. On any given day you can find her planning her next adventure with her wife, blogging away on her blog (www.belovelive.com) about daily life and social issues, and discovering little hidden gems and secret places in the city. She faithfully totes her camera and her coffee mug everywhere she goes. And she’s always up for a conversation about spirituality, politics, or other taboo topics. You can find her on the web at www.belovelive.com.

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